Where’s Google Going Next?
I just finished watching this TED interview with Larry Page. I’m amazed by Mr. Page’s humility and willingness to reimagine the world.
Some of my favorite bits from the video:
The shortcomings of Search
Q: When [search is ] done, how will it be?
A: Well, I guess, in thinking about where we’re going — you know, why is it not done? — a lot of it is just computing’s kind of a mess. You know, your computer doesn’t know where you are, it doesn’t know what you’re doing, it doesn’t know what you know, and a lot we’ve been trying to do recently is just make your devices work, make them understand your context. Google Now, you know, knows where you are, knows what you may need. So really having computing work and understand you and understand that information, we really haven’t done that yet. It’s still very, very clunky.
On Ed Snowden, Internet Security & Privacy
A: I saw the picture of Sergey with Edward Snowden yesterday. Some of you may have seen it. But I think, for me, I guess, privacy and security are a really important thing. We think about it in terms of both things, and I think you can’t have privacy without security, so let me just talk about security first, because you asked about Snowden and all of that, and then I’ll say a little bit about privacy. I think for me, it’s tremendously disappointing that the government secretly did all this stuff and didn’t tell us. I don’t think we can have a democracy if we’re having to protect you and our users from the government for stuff that we’ve never had a conversation about. And I don’t mean we have to knowwhat the particular terrorist attack is they’re worried about protecting us from, but we do need to knowwhat the parameters of it is, what kind of surveillance the government’s going to do and how and why,and I think we haven’t had that conversation. So I think the government’s actually done itself a tremendous disservice by doing all that in secret.
Q: Yeah. And then there’s a privacy side of it.
A: Yes. The privacy side, I think it’s — the world is changing. You carry a phone. It knows where you are. There’s so much more information about you, and that’s an important thing, and it makes sense why people are asking difficult questions. We spend a lot of time thinking about this and what the issues are. I’m a little bit — I think the main thing that we need to do is just provide people choice, show them what data’s being collected — search history, location data. We’re excited about incognito mode in Chrome, and doing that in more ways, just giving people more choice and more awareness of what’s going on. I also think it’s very easy. What I’m worried is that we throw out the baby with the bathwater.And I look at, on your show, actually, I kind of lost my voice, and I haven’t gotten it back. I’m hoping that by talking to you I’m going to get it back.
A: All right. So get out your voodoo doll and whatever you need to do. But I think, you know what, I look at that, I made that public, and I got all this information. We got a survey done on medical conditions with people who have similar issues, and I look at medical records, and I say, wouldn’t it be amazing if everyone’s medical records were available anonymously to research doctors? And when someone accesses your medical record, a research doctor, they could see, you could see which doctor accessed it and why, and you could maybe learn about what conditions you have. I think if we just did that, we’d save 100,000 lives this year.
A: So I guess I’m just very worried that with Internet privacy, we’re doing the same thing we’re doing with medical records, is we’re throwing out the baby with the bathwater, and we’re not really thinking about the tremendous good that can come from people sharing information with the right people in the right ways.
On Corporate Responsibility
Q: Which is a second thing about corporations. You are one of those people who believe that corporations are an agent of change if they are run well.
A: Yeah. I’m really dismayed most people think companies are basically evil. They get a bad rap. And I think that’s somewhat correct. Companies are doing the same incremental thing that they did 50 years ago or 20 years ago. That’s not really what we need. We need, especially in technology, we need revolutionary change, not incremental change.